06/01/2020 No. 156
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Towards "democracy of the twenty-first century"─discussion on China's road of political reform: optimization, innovation and beyond (III)
By Zhongjia Pang    Final revision and English translation by Sheng-Wei Wang
October 1, 2010

(3) Transforming the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference into the ASC that has the function of checks and balances


Based on the current system in China, the establishment of the ASC may follow the line of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) framework that has worked as a political showpiece for more than half a century. Through pilot projects and restructuring, a transformation can be made. The levels of the ASC can be comparable with the levels of the CPPCC. It will be divided into central, provincial (municipal), city and county four levels. Each level is independently created, but the upper level guides the operations of the lower level. Currently active members of the participating party, the Democratic Party, can also be absorbed in a proper form to join the council system to play a real role in politics as a positive force. Therefore, the construction of the council system in socialist China in comparison with an abstract preparation starting from zero or with a giant redirection from the traditional systems of the Western countries can be much easier and get twice the result with half the effort.


As early as March 13, 2001, at the closing ceremony of the CPPCC in China, the then Chairman Li Ruihuan with resounding tone called the National People’s Congress (NPC), the CPPCC, the news media and other monitoring mechanisms to prevent the party power to run uncontrolled in the administrative process. He pointed out that in China, the government, army, police, and courts, all belong to the people; they must study and create various supervisory systems and forms on the basis of the national situation to enable the population to frequently, timely and in an orderly manner prevent and correct power from derailment and to ensure that people's power is always in the hands of the people. He also stressed that the reason for the socialist system being superior was basically that all power belonged to the people; currently the negative phenomena of corruption in some places were still growing and spreading; they became obstacles to reform and hidden dangers to social stability; these caused discontent among the masses and therefore power must be controlled and supervised.


In order to embark on the broad road towards democratization, besides the self monitoring and self control of the ruling party, the most urgently needed mechanism for removing the “obstacles to reform and hidden dangers to social stability” and eliminating people's discontent is the authentic checks and balances. After grasping this truth, the half–century old, superfluous CPPCC can finally be completely transformed into the ASC that has the function of authentic checks and balances. Then, is the "monitoring system and form" that “enables the population to frequently, timely and in an orderly manner prevent and correct power from derailment and to ensure that people's power is always in the hands of the people” not ready to come out?


In the future, in a possibly quite long period of gradual historical transition, on what basis can we protect an elite government that is based on public opinion (no multi-party competition, dual-parliamentary system, separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, and general elections) from following the beaten track of the traditional systems of the West? On what basis can this government continuously and healthily progress along the general direction of reform that is tuned in both ways (takes care of the self-interest and the public spirit) without stagnation or reversal? On what basis can it not become an authoritarian or even fascist regime and hence lost by the wayside? Checks and balances are the indispensable protector.


We have highly praised the great value of checks and balances. In reality, the overall process (whether in the areas of natural or social sciences) towards making harmonious result possible is nothing but the coordination of all large, small and different kinds of constraints. In the social and political areas, checks and balances are the highest form of constraint functions and might as well be understood as the highest form of the Confucius code of conduct of "ritual".


2. Perfecting the cadre selection and appointment system by “electing virtuous and worthy people" and introducing the “referendum confirmation”


Concerning virtuous and worthy people being elected, neither Confucius nor Plato viewed direct elections as a necessity. But if the election of the virtuous and worthy people loses contact with the public opinion, how can we ensure that people exercise the rights of choice of the highest and final authority?


Producing or endorsing senior government officials and representatives of the people based on the free will of the people is the basic step for establishing a democratic political system. This will give legitimacy to the government on the one hand and determine the upper limit of the government power on the other hand, and is the embodiment of people’s greatest and final checks and balances.


As stated earlier, the Western democracies are costly and in fact they are largely mere formalities. The traditional system of direct general election that has not been stopped, of course, should not be the only choice of democratic politics today.


In our innovative program of reform, the proposal is to combine the specific condition of China and practice a system of which the standard for selecting talents is raised to be fair, scientific and the performances of the leading cadres on the jobs will be made public periodically. These cadres will undergo a confirmation process by the public opinion polling to decide the fate of their posts. It will reflect the supreme power of people's choice and checks and balances over the government. This system is the ultra-modern product of combining the organized recommendation and the concept of public opinion polling.


Let us assume that the candidates for the government and representatives of the people can be voted by people according to the following two methods: (1) direct election; and (2) indirect recommendation followed by referendum confirmation.


(1) Direct election


In 1987, China promulgated the Organic Law of the Villagers Committees (for Trial Implementation) to protect the rights of self-governance of the hundreds of millions of peasants. It stipulated that "The chairman, vice-chairman and members of a Villagers committee shall be elected directly by the villagers." The Organic Law of the Villagers Committees officially implemented in 1998 further defined the nature of village autonomy and improved the procedures of direct elections. Since the practice of the Organic Law of the Villagers Committees (for Trial Implementation), a vast majority of provinces in China have completed the smooth transition of millions of village cadres from being assigned, i.e. appointed by the higher authorities, to being directly elected by the villagers. Direct election has become the main form of grassroots elections in China.


The vibrant development of direct elections at urban and rural grass-roots levels in China reflects the determination of the ruling party and the government to carry forward socialist democracy. As early as September 2001, after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter observed an election of the villagers’ committee in a rural village in Jiangsu Province, he enthusiastically signed that Chinese farmers treasured their rights, Chinese leaders supported the elections of the Villagers committees and this process was irreversible.


The Organic Law of Urban Residents' Committees promulgated in 1989 further confirmed an organization for self-government of the urban residents at the grassroots level, which is elected by the residents. In addition to electing the person in charge of the organization for self-government, under the Constitution and laws of the local organizations, deputies of the NPC at county and township levels in China are also directly elected by voters. The elections of deputies of the NPCs at the county-level are held once every five years, and deputies at the township-level once every three years. A total of more than 3 million deputies of the NPCs at county and township levels have been directly elected.


In China, the leaders at the village level and the deputies at the township and county levels are in general directly elected. Because voters can have more direct contact and understanding of the candidates. This is a system of direct democracy rich in practical meanings and should be adhered to, expanded and further improved. The focuses of the improvement are: (1) to ensure that the candidates truly reflect the original meaning of the direct democracy; (2) to develop and improve the election system; and (3) to reduce or even prevent the ruling party from being replaced by any form of acts in self-interest. These must be carried out until the real separation of party and government becomes the foundation of the democratic life of the people.


(2) Indirect election, referendum confirmation


The executive leaders at higher level (for example, a mayor at the city level) can be produced by: (1) following the candidate list in the competitive election, such a list is recommended through extensive consultations under the auspices of the ruling party; and (2) using the method of secret ballots of the People's Congress at the same level (in this case, the city level). Deputies at the regional or above-county level can also be produced by: (1) following the candidate list in the competitive election, such a list is recommended through extensive consultations under the auspices of the ruling party; and (2) using the method of secret ballots of the People's Congress at their corresponding lower level. The candidates in the competitive elections should be able to campaign openly in the People's Congress including expressing their political views and debating with each other in order to provide a more adequate basis for the ballot. The leaders of the ASC can also be produced in a similar way.


In July 2002, the CPC promulgated the Regulation on the Selection and Appointment of the Party and Government Leaders, in which more scientific, standardized and strict provisions were made in the areas of basic principles, basic procedures, basic methods, expanding democracy and strengthening supervision for selecting and appointing cadres. The officials in charge of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee call it "the basic rule that must follow for the selection and appointment of the party and government leaders and also a powerful weapon for preventing and correcting from the source unhealthy trends in personnel placement". As a strong move, it is also widely practiced that the Organization Department implements the warning system prior to the investigation of a candidate and serves public notice prior to officials holding the office. In July 2002, the CPC for the first time included the open selection of government officials into the Regulation on the Selection and Appointment of the Party and Government Leaders to make it the rule that must be followed when appointing inner-party officials. Over the years, tens of thousands of government officials in various places of China have been chosen via open selection. Most of them hold posts as Party committee members below the provincial level or deputies of the governments/ departments. This new approach has increased significantly the personnel participation in decision-making and changed the situation of "a small number of candidates selected among few people".


The main significance of this provision is to improve the quality of the recommended and selected talents in the above indirect election. Its positive effect is beyond doubt. But, even if such measure is fully implemented and the applications are expanded to the top-level officials, they cannot prevent talented people from being consumed by greed and quickly moving to the wrong side after holding power in their hands.


Since ancient times, corruption has never been stopped. The historical experience and the grim reality of rampant corruption show that given the lack of effective checks and balances, any well-intentioned, vigorous and resolute measure for improvement is never able to fix a desperate situation and can never pull back the raging waves of absolute corruption.


In order to fully implement the principle of representing the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people to ensure “exercise power in the interest of the people, share the feelings of the people, and work for the good of the people", no matter how sound the system of indirect election has become, it should be carried out to the basic point of "sovereignty belongs to the people". It should conscientiously embody the universal will of the people and the biggest and final checks and balances that people have. To this end, this article proposes to gain experience by pilot programs and to stepwise implement the approach of referendum confirmation. It should fundamentally strengthen and improve the democratic content of the indirect election system.


Referendum confirmation is like the traditional general elections: It is the method that gives all citizens “one person, one vote” and let them use their free will to exercise their rights. The difference is that general elections create officials, whereas referendum confirmation confirms the appointed principal officials.


Referendum confirmation is to hold referendums during the term of the statutory mandate to deliver the key leaders at all levels direct confirmation by public opinions, when they are indirectly elected for the above-mentioned organizations of executive, legislative and checks and balances. Namely it is to approve their continued eligibility to serve. The right of one person one vote of the citizens at this time will be used to express "confirmation" opinions over the key members of the government. If the vote is not sufficient to reach an endorsement, the position of the official should be adjusted according to certain procedures.


Usually the term of office for principal government officials is four to five years, and they can serve for up to another term of office to prevent forming a relationship network of special interests. However, such restriction often results in their lacking boldness, speaking and acting cautiously, clinging to old ideas and trying not to make big mistakes at the early stage in order to secure the opportunity of serving for another term of office. This situation is not conducive to planning of good long-term policy. When government officials can really bring their creativity into play and act decisively, the time for accomplishments in general is often limited to the second term in office when they have less to worry about. But that does not leave them much time.


Once this kind of civil confirmation system of one person one vote is adopted, the positive/negative result of each confirmation is no different from going through a democratic election to win re-election or to step down. Following this, we can design a kind of system that combines the duration of the longer total term and the moderate confirmation cycle, plus the opportunity for another assured term of office. This can facilitate the principal officials of the government to strive for planning a vision for their policies in order to produce stable and long-term returns.


For example, assume a local leader at a certain level has a nine-year term of office and every three years there is a confirmation vote. If he/she cannot pass the vote the first time, the official has to step down after only three years. If he/she passes the vote each time, after the nine-year full term the official can request a confirmation vote for another three-year term. If approved by the upper level and passed by the voter ballot, the result would be a total term of up to twelve years.


This civil confirmation system of one person one vote is the opportunity for people to make a comprehensive assessment of their general officials. It is the award-winning ceremony for giving recognition and commendation to the good officials, and also the wake-up call to unethical, incompetent or corrupt officials. It plays the role of a punching bag for the outraged people and a safety valve for their rights.


Such ballot form of confirmation can be a realistic and efficient alternative from the direct ballot system that implements the democratic principle of sovereignty belonging to the people. In comparison with the traditional general election, it does not have the voluminous charge of running an election and the election campaigning activities. It can save a lot of expenses, time and social costs, and avoid many of the passive, negative factors. More importantly, people will be able to make reliable judgments and choices according to the evidence-based performance and conduct of ethics during the tenure of the officials. The relevant government officials will be directly placed under the supervision of and selection by people from the bottom up; and the reason for the existence of their official positions in the final analysis can only be the approval and authorization of the people.


At the same time, a system should be established so that those who stand out among the selected, especially members of the government who receive outstanding assessments, can receive well-deserved rewards, treatments and encouragements. These include access to some of the "according to his needs" ex gratia of the Marx-style communism and proper care of their immediate families to be free from worries. For those officials who are of outstanding quality and have distinctive performance of governance, after the term of office they should enjoy generous salaries of retired officials and be cherished by the people. They should receive gratitude and praise from the State, the society and the people, and the door to heaven on Earth will open for them. This kind of reward, treatment and encouragement must be appropriate and play an exemplary role in the distribution system throughout the country, but should not destroy the extremely wise principle of moderation or take an extreme course. Excessive pay raise to the officials, by euphemistically calling it "fostering honesty and clean behavior by high salary" is in fact no different from using power to get rich. It is not necessary for us to use the Platonic style of communism, which gave up private property and family life, to "ill-treat" the public servants. But the kind of righteous nature of meeting satisfaction in serving the people required by Plato should be considered as the character of the super voters who are the senior government officials.


The government officials, apart from enjoying their appropriate rewards, treatments and encouragements should not have any other privileges. As for those who use power to gain profit or trade power for money and the like, are absolutely forbidden and their acts are in the list of the great insults. They should be served at the appropriate time with draconian punishment according to a harsh code of laws and their names ruined in mud. One false step will bring everlasting grief that makes them unbearable and even fall into the hell on Earth.


If the incumbent government officials cannot pass the mid-tem confirmation vote, they will lose the power and position that they no longer are qualified for. This situation is undoubtedly the biggest failure in the political career and reputation of the persons concerned. Their reputations, rewards, treatments and social status are bound to suffer a dramatic devaluation that is far more serious in comparison with the impact and consequences after suffering the loss of running for office in the Western societies. This will also at the same time damage the label of the ruling party that takes charge of the cadre selection, appointment and removal. Therefore, the system of confirmation vote will generate a huge daunting pressure against corruption by government officials and correct their governance. In the final analysis, this will provide true, powerful and effective self motivation for government officials to give up evil and return to virtue. This also imposes on the ruling party a more stringent high standard for training and selecting the cadres and strengthens the requirement for supervising and assessing them.


If the incumbent government officials cannot pass the mid-tem confirmation vote, the ruling party will still take charge of the progressive adjustment of incompetent officials’ positions and the selection for their replacements. Therefore, this system of confirmation vote based on public opinions does not undermine the power and status of the ruling party. On the contrary, once the ruling party is good at using this "safe" democratic structure to accomplish the original goal of always representing the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, it will greatly enhance people's trust and cohesion. This is very conducive to the formation of a social situation of long-term stability and enduring peace with sustainable development and progress.


Referendum confirmation can also be tried within the ruling party. Top-level officials and key deputies, etc. of the party organizations that are at the same level with the local governments can also accept a referendum confirmation during their terms by all party members who have voting rights. This will become a practical and effective measure for strengthening inner-party democracy and improving the performance of the administration.


This is the truth of "The person in the highest position should act with integrity. If he sets a good example, would others dare not to follow?" (Verse 17 of Analects of Confucius: Chapter 12 Yan Yuan).


(3) Opinion polls can play an integral role in supportive guidance


In August 2002, the China-based Horizon Research Consultancy Group made a ground breaking attempt to survey for the first time the support rate of mayors in China's eight major cities. Analysts at home and abroad viewed this survey as "a thought-provoking new event worthy of attention" in China’s political history and social life. In the eight cities Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Xiamen, Shenyang, and Zhengzhou, 3404 adult citizens over the age of 18 were randomly selected for multiple home visits. Horizon found that the survey results are very positive.


The survey made by the Horizon Research Consultancy Group included in fact ten cities, but the support rates of the mayors of the other two cities were too low. So they only released in the report the results from the eight cities. The moderator did not disclose the names of the other two cities, but he explained that one of the city mayors just took the post and another city mayor’s term of office was too long, so he said that "out of the consideration of people’s psychological acceptance, we have made such a reservation". In his view, if the survey had been conducted a decade earlier, it might have been considered as "making trouble".  Now, "the people's mental capacity for acceptance is in a transition period".


Horizon’s survey this time was mainly about the degree of understanding and appreciation of the citizens in four areas: their mayor's policy plan, governance performance, clean image and personal style. The moderator held the view that this was only a simple and rough outline study. From the perspective of comprehensive assessment, these four indicators were not sufficient. They should be further refined and made specific to cover social security, educational policy, transportation, public order and so on, to see where the people were dissatisfied in the end. This will create a reference for improving the work of the mayors in decision-making. In the moderator’s view, the poll that was established for the purpose of surveying positive interaction relations between the government and the public should be gradually deepened to become the evaluation system of cadres in China.


China is building diversified evaluation systems for leading cadres. Among them, the inner-party and outside-party inspections, monitoring by superiors and public oversight should go hand in hand. Public opinion polls, as an important means of evaluation, should be a statutory part of the process. Among the studies and assessments of public opinions by agents, those of depth can be used as exercises and preparations for implementing the one person one vote confirmation system. They are also the often complementary activities that are necessary and supportive in the future after the establishment of such a system.


The two major reforms above can first become local pilot projects and after having gained from experience can be transferred into the establishment of the national system. This would require making consequential amendments to the Constitution and developing sets of laws and rules. This development means an independent innovation and a major historical turning point during the constitutional construction of the state. It has the meaning of serving as a milestone for going beyond.


3. Transformation of political party nature    


(1)  In the historical long journey of inevitably withering away after ending their own missions, the political parties must adjust their own nature and functions


Today's world of more than two hundred countries and regions has at least about five thousand political parties. Only some twenty countries and regions, mainly the Muslim fundamentalist countries, prohibit the existence of political parties.


According to the Marxist theory, the various social classes in order to maintain and realize the fundamental interests of their classes need to organize political parties to win over the national leadership. This way, the party’s own program, line and policies can turn into national laws and the class will can be raised to the state will; the political party can rely on the coercive power of the state for such implementations.


Therefore, Marxism believed that political parties were produced with the creation of the social classes and would die with the demise of these classes.


In the summer of 1920, the Second Congress of the Communist International adopted a resolution on The Role of the Communist Party in the Proletarian Revolution, which said: "The need for a political party of the proletariat disappears only with the complete abolition of classes".


In 1924, Stalin said: “When the class no longer exists, the dictatorship of the proletariat will die and the party of course dies."


Mao Zedong also said: "When the class is wiped out, all things, political parties and the state machinery used as the tools of class struggle will by virtue lose their functions and there will be no need for them; they will gradually wither away, end their own historical mission, and the human society will move to a more advanced level".


In the post-Cold-War era of information and globalization, no human society can be divided by the simplified concept of class and class struggle as the core of the ideological confrontation is already outdated. The trend toward non-groups and the characteristics of the modern way of life require that political parties in the long journey of history towards their extinction make corresponding adjustments in their nature and function.


As noted above, a political party that is qualified for governance sooner or later has to keep up with times. It has to gradually transform from the representative of a clear-cut class and group, or a particular ideology/dogma, into a political service organization of all the people with “no doctrine”. It has to cultivate, select and recommend outstanding managerial political talents to provide an optimal decision-making program for running the country. Through the transformation of this nature, the concept of political parties or the ruling party is bound to disappear gradually. This is the trend and requirement for the development and progress of the human society as well as the scientific prediction of Marxism’s desire and inference. People who grasp the opportunities are the outstanding talents. Although some countries and regions still have an increasing number of political parties, the developed countries are taking the lead in showing this progressive trend.


(2) Can China avoid the risk and flip-flop from a "one-party system" to a "multi-party system" and then to a "non-party system”?


The ruling party is the party responsible for organizing the government. Since different countries have different systems, the party-government relationships have their own various characteristics.


The United States has implemented a multi-party election system. Because of the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, members of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court often belong to different political parties. Therefore the concept of a ruling party is somewhat ambiguous. Furthermore, the primary role of the U.S. political party is to help the candidates win elections and not to interfere in government affairs. Even if a political party has a huge victory, only the elected officials will perform their duties according to the law. The party organization has no right to lead or participate in decision-making. Besides, the relationship between the political party and the party members is loose. Party members have their own final say about joining the party, leaving the party or transferring to another party. They have the liberty of cross-party vote and can transfer to another party to run in an election. Under these circumstances, the above-mentioned transformation of nature and functions of the political parties can easily occur and develop invisibly. The well-developed and popular information technology has especially facilitated such a transformation. So you can see the various examples listed above, while New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2003 simply proposed to adopt a straightforward non-partisan election.


The Press Free Guide reported on April 9, 1999, that, when the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher Liu Ji talked about the trend of the Western democracy, he thought the current tendency of the West was “not multi-party, but the disappearance of political parties"; the reason was the birth of the Internet that resulted in an "electronic democracy". The administrative programs spread through the Internet and in one night could hire hundreds of thousands of party members. Therefore there was no need for political parties and the West began to enter the era when the political parties die out.


The situation in China is very different. Since the founding of the country, it has always upheld the basic principle of the leadership of the Communist Party. The ruling party has the direct control of the state power and implements a centralized system according to the principle that "It's the Party that leads everything". This system of "The party is the government and the government is the party" will surely give birth to the "absolute power" that leads to the "absolute corruption" and the consequence of low administrative efficiency, which make the above conversion more difficult to occur and to develop naturally.


In other words, the nature and function of the transformation of China's ruling party of course are imperative, otherwise the party will not able to cope with the trend of the times. But what is especially needed is the advocacy of top-down initiative and efforts; otherwise the party is likely to get stuck in a groove, remain rigid and lose an unusual historic opportunity.


Accordingly, we can consider that the best for China is to transform and develop from the one-party system "directly" towards the "non-party system", just like the Chinese electronics industry skipping the electron tube stage and heading straight towards the semiconductor stage. It is a wiser and more fashionable choice in comparison with restoring the traditional stereotype of multi-party system.


(3) A wise political party can eventually turn into a university for recommending talents and a think tank for government policy research serving the role as a non-intervening Government Maker


Former General Secretary Jiang Zemin, while putting forward the Three Represents (the party must always represent the requirements of the development of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of the development of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China) also pointed out the "three changes" as follows: The world is changing, China is changing, and the Communist Party must also change to keep up with the trend of the times.


In this historical transformation, the ruling party will have the control power of the main decision-making for a fairly long period of history. As time goes on, when the transformation becomes effective and successful, it is necessary to respond to the demand of the trend of social progress and follow the efficiency principle of management science. It is essential to specify the political "successor" in accordance with the procedures of optimization rather than the will of "rule of man". The regime will gradually become an excellently managed elite government resulting from virtuous and worthy people being selected. Eventually, it has to realize the purpose that the party does not interfere with politics.


The chief architect Deng Xiaoping of China's reform and opening up has always stood at the strategic level of success and failure to emphasize the special importance of building human resources. He thought that "Talents are hard to come by", "The key to success is to be able to find talents and use talents", and "If talents continue to emerge, then our undertakings can have hope”.


On June 9, 2000, Jiang Zemin pointed out in his Speech at the Working Conference of the National Party School of Communist Party of China that "The current and future global competition, fundamentally speaking, is the competition of talents" and "Whether China's socialist causes can strengthen and continue to develop, and be as strong as ever during the fierce international competition in the future, the key depends on whether our party can continue to cultivate a large number of high-quality leaders. If this issue is not resolved well, it will be difficult for us in the new century to withstand the test of various risks and realize the established goals of the party and the state. All party comrades should realize the important meaning of training outstanding young and middle-age cadres of leadership from this kind of political thinking and do a good job urgently rather than leisurely, seriously rather than superficially, in accordance with the demands of the Central Government".


On May 23, 2003, General Secretary Hu Jintao presided over the Politburo meeting that was devoted to study and plan for further strengthening the work related to talents and so on. The meeting believed that the problem of talents was the key issue of the party and country's development. It made the scientific judgment that emphasized that human resources were the primary resources. It required party committees and governments at all levels to seriously carry out the major policy of respecting knowledge, talents, and innovation proposed by the 16th Party Congress to further strengthen the party's leadership on the work of talents. According to the requirements of party’s management of talents, it should form the personnel structure of unified leadership by party committees, make the organization departments take the lead and grasp the total task. The relevant departments should perform their duties and work closely together.


"Good governance depends on the good ruler” and “When the good ruler survives, so does his government move forward" (The Classic of Rites: The Doctrine of the Mean)”; "The skills of cultivating a country devised by King Wen and King Wu of Zhou Dynasty have not fallen to the ground, since some people are still carrying forward these traditions " (The Analects of Confucius: The Chapter of Zi Zhang). Confucius regarded "selecting good people by judging their disciplines" as the foundation of political success. In reality, any rational political system needs the most talented officials to produce the necessary performance.


Confucius stressed that the talented people in politics must have both ability and moral integrity, and the latter has top priority. He said: "They must be faithful and deliberate, and then knowledgeable and capable… Therefore, if they are sincere and benevolent, then they can be approached; if they are also knowledgeable and capable, then they can be given the task. So approach the benevolent and use the capable” (Shuo Yuan: The Chapter of Respecting the Sages).


This is very different from the empty thoughts on talents of the pseudo-Confucians who regarded virtue as everything. Confucius demanded that capable talents and sages who were involved in political affairs must possess extraordinary abilities. He attended to personally train qualified administrative officials and required them to become versatile by "not being limited by the concrete matters". In addition to accepting education of moral and ethical guidelines, they also had to master the six arts--- etiquette, music, radio, royal, humanities, science, and knew well the Six Classics---the Book of Poetry, the Book of History, the Book of Rites and Ceremonies (the Record of Rites), the Book of Music, the Book of Yi (the Book of Changes), and the Book of Chun Qiu, as the basic elements of literature and knowledge. They should know how to run government, manage taxes, preside over ceremonies, receive guests, etc. The teaching was in line with the student's ability and made the most of the expertise of each person on the basis of training all-rounders.


The ideal state envisaged by Plato needed an endless supply of excellent, outstanding talents (saints, sage, sophists, and outstanding talents) to compose the government at all levels.


Two thousand and five hundred years after Confucius and Plato, the world has entered a white-hot era of high-degree competitions for knowledge-based talents. Today China needs a large number of elite politicians and management gurus with both integrity and talent in the modern sense.


"The supposedly most brilliant people are the ones who choose the sages" (Kong Zi Jia Yu: The Chapter of Wangyan).


A wise ruling party should be able to combine all complementary reforms and steadily turn itself into a great institution for discovering, absorbing, training, studying, recommending, sending, selecting, assessing talents, and a think tank for government policy research. This will avoid the risk and flip-flop from a "one-party system" to a "multi-party system" and then to a "non-party system" and will be a step on the road of painless transition from a "one-party" political system to a "non-party system".  Under the trust of the people, it will continue to serve the sacred role as a non-intervening Government Maker to protect the long-lasting stability of having virtuous and worthy people in politics.


To adapt to the mood of this transformation and the essence of this long-term task, the ruling party should in due course "rectify names". Name should match the reality; “with the right title, the words carry weight".




The revolving door-style multi-party competition, the inefficient decision-making system of the dual parliament and the general election system of the carnival style that emphasizes form over substance are no longer the essential elements of post modern democratic politics. What is important under the premise of a fair competition are: (1) to train and select truly outstanding management talents approved by public opinion to form a first-class elite government and to build a mechanism of checks and balances with special characteristics and a confirmation mechanism of public opinion; (2) to reform with the spirit of innovation the rules of procedure and legislative functions in response to the modern society that has non-group characteristics; (3) to reasonably reorganize, decentralize and divert the decision-making power; (4) to implement a more effective division of labor in decision-making and practice a moderate and optimized decision-making. In this case, the government decision is expected to maximize the interests of the broad masses under the support of morality to create a big macro-social environment that has advanced contents so that the spiritual innovation ability can smoothly elaborate by following a right path. Thereby, the primary productive force of science and technology can become the leader in rejuvenating the country. And the productivity of the entire society can continuously develop and make progress.


The above-suggested "safe passage" type of innovative reform within the regime conforms to the prerequisite of political stability and the requirements of sustained economic development. It is suitable for the domestic condition and does not follow the beaten track of the Western tradition. If led by the ruling party, it can combine with the advanced cultural construction under fully controlled conditions and be implemented calmly, step by step, from a trial city to the whole nation, steadily and thoroughly. The existing power structure will not only be free from destruction or subversion, it would be beneficial for the ruling party to perform meritorious services to enhance its authority and build a constructive process of winning the legitimate status for long-term governance.


In this reform process, the current ruling class, from start to finish, does not have to face the threats of power struggle as long as they insist on an active leadership that promotes this process without damaging it. The vested interests within the scope of the law for the members of the ruling class will not be liquidated by this process. They still have a very favorable position of authority at the starting line and their future will be grasped in their own hands in the future competition for qualified personnel. Nothing can be better than for the grand public spirit, for the self-interest, and for both. Consequently, the resistance of fear of reforms within the ruling party will be significantly reduced. The groups within the party, who have vested interests, and a variety of conservative forces will realize that there will be no other optimal choice in this world conducive to their benefits; then perhaps they will strive to perform in order to gain a foothold. This would be just like their original acceptance of the new economic reform deal from Deng Xiaoping.


As soon as the reform starts, the government can stand up and announce to the world: Our country not only has made prominent success on economic reform, it will also create a new era of political reform on democratization. Since the party ban is not lifted and the status quo of the production method of the government (including administrative agencies and the People's Congress) is maintained, it is still not a government produced by one person one vote. But with the backing of public opinion, the ASC that has the function of balancing power, the "confirmation" system of one person one vote, the separation of party and government, the future towards a non-party system, the prospect of political reform and democratization has an official start. Its seriousness and inevitability are credible and provable. From here we can create a lasting period of stability and harmony, and a developing and progressive situation in which government orders are smoothly implemented and people are united. The Chinese society will hopefully turn into a new era of unprecedented spiritual awakening and great liberation with the ability of sagacious creativity. It will accordingly win a high degree of trust, understanding and support from the international community. The so-called "demonization" talk will certainly collapse by itself. The Chinese society will succeed in the cooperation with all countries and peoples, get along with each other, give mutual guidance and support, and reconcile differences. Together they will build a paradise on Earth peacefully and rationally for the family of mankind and make due contributions.


As a great country with one-fifth of the world population and after going through difficulties and setbacks, China has finally walked along the direction of an advanced culture and embarked on the broad road of political reform of democratization. This may be a journey of peaceful transformation that has brand new exemplary meaning and far-reaching impact in the human history. This will dramatically speed up the end of what Marx named with deep remorse the "prehistory" period and start a real human history.





First draft on July 19, 2003

Author revision on September 5, 2010

Final revision by the translator on September 16, 2010


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Zhongjia Pang is the Chief Researcher of the Maxim Academy of International Economics and Sociology, USA.
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